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The Flaming Urge

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The Flaming Urge

Published 1953

Harold Lloyd, Jr. plays a young man who has a compulsion to watch burning buildings. Byron Foulger plays the man who hires him.

Run time 67 minutes 39 seconds
Audio/Visual sound, black & white


Reviewer: Dr Feel Rotten - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 21, 2011
Subject: Monroe would have burnt completely to the ground
As small as Monroe is now just imagine it in the 50's.. All those fires shown in the movie would have burned the place to the ground leaving not so much as a green twig for 100 miles in any direction.
But the code is bordering on the obscene with hysteria and funniness.
I'm not gay, but have had many gay friends over the years and have defended many as friends after wannabe thugs found them easy pickings. I always thought of it as one of the cruelest parts of human nature and a close friend in HS killed himself after he was labeled gay by our classmates then beaten repeatedly..He too was submissive and had a nasty bully for an older sibling who I saw fit to smack the crap out of more than once for beating on his "sissy" brother.
Anyway..I enjoyed this movie for the mere fact that the same bully stereotypes are now odd man out. It's no longer fashionable to publicly humiliate gay men or women so I guess there is some hope for society after all. The same bullies are now having to explain to judges why they seem to think beating on someone for not being 'tough enough" is OK. The only problem is now jails are full of gay bullies. How the world/stomach turns, huh?
Almost the first words out of the landlady's mouth, "What lovely luggage...I love leather."..Fire bell went clang there! lol
Reviewer: Elric_Dewisant - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 20, 2010
Subject: This movie is a hoot!!
OK. Time to put on your special pink-tinted glasses. Gay is the chief code word here, and this movie has it in spades. This old film doesn't really hold up well and it's moral of "just about anything can be cured if you just find the right girl" is woefully out-dated. still. It's one of the funnies hours you'll ever spend. Just about every gay stereotype is represented, from the nelly queen to he straight-acting businessman. Even the dog likes to "chase fires". And, there's more code in here than a German enigma machine. The print quality and sound are really good, considering it's age and post-release neglect and abandonment

Very much a must-see. Just about as old as the Mattachine Society, if you're gay (like I am), this film is not just loads of fun, but part of our history, too!
Reviewer: doowopbob - favorite - August 7, 2010
Subject: ...Huh..?
Whatizit..?..By This Time Harold Lloyd Sr. Was Photographing Young Nubile Women In His Studio..See Harold Lloyds Nudes In 3-D Book On Amazon.Compiled By Daughter Suzanne. Jr.Always Had His Fathers Support.But Projects Always Ended In Failure..Jr. Was A Submissive Homosexual & Often Came Home Battered, He Died Just After His Father In 1971 At 39 He Is Buried Below His Father In A Forest Lawn Crypt. Mildred, Harold Sr's. Wife Is Beside Him, Below Her Is A Cript For Suzanne.
Reviewer: cosmico - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 24, 2010
Subject: Thanks to Arch Stanton
Many thanks to Arch Stanton for his well-stated and informative review to which there is little I can add, except to echo what a fascinating film this is! I first viewed "The Flaming Urge" some 30 years ago and picked up on the subtext, even before I knew of the star's short, sad life of abuse and alcoholism.
Reviewer: Arch Stanton - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 22, 2010
Subject: Flaming good
FLAMING URGE is, in its way, a remarkable film by one time director-writer Harold Ericson which ought to be better known. It concerns the arrival in a small town of Tom Smith (Harold Lloyd, Jnr). Harold has a problem - he is irrestibly attracted to fires and compulsively chases every passing fire engine en route to a blaze. He has chosen this town to settle in as the level of fire incidents is the smallest on record that he can discover, to help himself overcome his pyrofilia. Tom finds himself a job in a local store with an understanding boss, but soon discovers that the number of fires locally is suddenly increasing and, despite his protests, he becomes chief suspect as the local arsonist...

A pleasant and curious enough film about an unusual compulsion on first viewing, it is only when one realises that 'flaming' is homosexual slang for quick arousal and/or 'flaunting effeminate traits' that the real sociological interest emerges. In real life Harold LLoyd Jnr was the great comedian's gay, alcoholic son who died early at age 40. In manner and speech in this, one of his few strarring vehicles, he reminds one of his famous father, albeit without the signature glasses. Thus FLAMING URGE's early comic scenes in the drapery store, where the young man works, recall the elder LLoyd's work in the first half of SAFETY LAST, even to the point of a couple of sly, specific visual references to the older comedy. Lloyd snr. of course was straight; some of the impact of FLAMING URGE is an implied gay deconstruction of a famous screen persona - one wonders what dad said when he saw it.

In short this is a fun film with substantial gay coding throughout - right down to the good deal of banter situated around the tie counter (at one point the star creates a gigantic bow tie, by way of marketing) and play on pencils. Tom's 'problem' is treated with a calmness and respect for difference throughout - miles away from the sniggering, condemnation or caricature with which a secret vice might have been received elsewhere. And while the film necessarily ends with a heterosexual wedding, it proves unconvincing. FLAMING URGE can be recommended, especially to those who like lesser known gay/camp classics such as TURNABOUT.
Reviewer: billbarstad - favoritefavoritefavorite - July 22, 2010
Subject: Ho Hum
This is the tepid tale of a compulsive fire watcher. Sick of loosing jobs, and having to move on because of his compulsion, he is intent on finding a place where he can avoid encountering fires. He moves to an ideal small town, and finds nice, boring people just like him, work, and love. Oh yeah, and fires. The screenwriter makes a halfhearted attempt at introducing conflict into this 1950s dreamworld story. Try it instead of a glass of warm milk before bedtime.

I downloaded the mercifully short 451MB AVI file. Video and audio quality are fine.
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